Removing Popcorn Ceiling

Turn your ceiling from drab to fab!

Ready to learn the trick to “removing popcorn ceiling”? I hated my ceiling! Not only did my popcorn ceiling date my master bedroom, but it was dirty and dusty!

I will help you go step-by-step in removing your popcorn ceiling, as well as teach you how to paint a ceiling. It is a lot of work, I won’t lie, but it is so worth the end result!

This is a photo of my master bedroom popcorn ceiling. I had learned the trick of removing popcorn ceiling a few years ago, quite by accident. My kitchen had popcorn on the ceiling, and one of my boys thought it would be fun to see if his spaghetti would stick to the ceiling. (Hey, many inventions happen quite by accident!) So, I took a wet rag to the ceiling, and as I begun to wash the spaghetti sauce, the popcorn began to wipe off. And, that is how I figured out how to remove popcorn ceiling.

Removing¬† Popcorn Ceiling –
Prep Work!

Before we get into all the specifics of “how to remove popcorn ceiling” fun, first you will want to remove all of the smaller pieces of furniture from your room, and then cover the rest with plastic drop cloths. I would scotch tape the plastic drop cloth to your furniture or wall to help keep it in place. This project is messy, so purchase several pieces of plastic drop cloths. These are the tools you will need for your “removing popcorn ceiling” project:

spray bottle
plastic scraper
metal baking pan
paint-able caulk and caulk gun
plastic gloves
safety glasses
flat ceiling paint
paint roller and angled brush
razor blade
large trash can

Once you have your tools all gathered, and you have taken your Advil, you are ready to get started. First, lay down a large piece of plastic drop cloth in the corner of your room. Place your ladder on top of your drop cloth.

Fill your spray bottle with warm water. Spray a section of your popcorn ceiling. I usually spray about a 2′ x 3′ section. Let it soak in, and then respray with water again.

Use a plastic scraper to scrape the popcorn off your ceiling. If you use a metal scraper, it is really easy to gouge your ceiling! (experience talking!)

Hold your baking pan up close to your ceiling, and begin scraping in a long steady motion. Keep your pan close to where you are scraping in order to catch the wet popcorn. Any part of the popcorn that doesn’t remove easily needs to be resprayed. Make sure you are wearing safety glasses or goggles. You do not want to get this stuff in your eyes!

If you have had your ceiling molding painted, the popcorn closest to the molding will not scrape off. You will have to use a razor blade to remove the painted popcorn. Save this job until last. When you begin removing the wet popcorn, it will become apparent quickly that you will need to empty your pan into the trash often because the wet popcorn is heavy!

Your ceiling will have wet spots; don’t worry it will dry. It will be very splotchy and messy, but we will get to that problem in a moment.

One of the steps in learning how to remove popcorn ceiling, is working around light fixtures. My ceiling had four recessed lights. If you can remove the round metal rings that houses your lights, it will help make removing the popcorn easier. Make sure your lights are turned off.

It will take several hours to remove your popcorn. I suggest taking many breaks; your neck will thank you. Once you have removed all of your popcorn, give your ceiling a few hours to dry.

Next, you need to use a razor blade and remove the painted popcorn next to your molding. I found this job a little difficult, and it was easy to cut into the drywall. But, don’t worry, because I will show you how to caulk between your molding and ceiling. Caulk covers a multitude of sins.

Once your ceiling is dry, and you have finished removing any extra popcorn, you are ready to prime. Do not skip this step, it is imperative to prime your ceiling before you apply paint.

I used Behr Stain Blocking Primer and Sealer in one. It blocks medium to heavy stains, is water clean up, and dries in 30 minutes.Roll on your primer, and then use an angled brush to paint the primer around the edges of your ceiling.

If you are new to caulking, it isn’t difficult at all. I use DAP all-purpose caulk. It is mold and mildew resistant, and paint-able.

Caulk between the top of your molding and the ceiling. Do about a 12 inch section at a time.

How to Paint a Ceiling

Now, the fun part! Painting your ceiling is really easy! You want to use a flat interior paint. Using a flat sheen on a ceiling will hide all of the imperfections. You will need to cover your ceiling with two coats.

Use a smooth roller, and roll on your ceiling paint a section at a time. Then use an angled brush to paint around the edges and corners of your ceiling. Flat paint dries quickly. You will notice when your first coat is finished that you probably missed some spots. No worries, your second application will cover those missed spots.

Let your first coat dry completely before applying the second. This is when you stand back, and if you can lift your neck to look, you realize how beautiful your ceiling is without popcorn!

I removed the outer metal rings of my recessed lights, and washed them thoroughly. Once they were dry, I painted them with my ceiling paint. This helped to camouflage them on my ceiling.

Learning how to remove popcorn ceiling isn’t difficult. But, it is messy, and takes patience and hard work. But, once finished and you step back and take a look at the difference, you realize how this project was worth all the “pain in the neck”.

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  1. @ Jennifer
    I have a same problem that you described in the post and I was looking to remove popcorn ceiling solution. I will try. Can you give me a favor how can I clean electric switches and AC?


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